Inside MAD-learn Through the Eyes of an Extern:

Embracing Workplace-Centric Teaching: A Reflection on the Educator Externship 

by Saundra Watts, Barber Middle School

This summer, I had the privilege of participating in my first educator externship, a transformative experience that has reshaped my approach to teaching. I had the opportunity to witness firsthand the stark contrast between traditional classroom practices and the dynamic,  autonomous nature of the workforce. This blog post aims to share the profound insights I gained during the externship and how they have influenced my perspective as an educator. 

Emulating Workplace Autonomy:  One of the more significant lessons I learned from my externship experience was the importance of preparing students for the workforce by fostering autonomy. In the workplace, employees are entrusted with responsibilities and are given the freedom to execute tasks in their own manner, whilst being guided by clear expectations. I now believe that incorporating this approach into the classroom can empower students to take charge of their learning journey and at the same time, embrace individual strengths.

Cultivating Soft Skills for Future Success:  Soft skills, essential for both academic pursuits and future careers, were emphasized during the externship. I realized that like any other facet of life, soft skills require training and learning. As educators, we play a crucial role in nurturing students’ communication, collaboration, and critical thinking abilities, preparing them for success in any profession they choose to pursue. For example, in the workforce, collaboration is key to accomplishing shared goals. I found that promoting teamwork and empathy among students is vital for fostering a sense of collective responsibility. By helping students recognize the significance of contributing to the success of their team, we encourage students to prioritize collective achievements over individual successes. 

Inspiring Leaders: A Transformative Approach: I was fortunate to observe exemplary leaders during my externship, both in the professional setting and within my school. Trusting employees to work independently, and providing guidance without micromanagement, instills confidence and inspires individuals to perform at their best. Drawing from these experiences, I aim to implement similar leadership principles in the classroom, empowering students to take charge of their learning under my guidance.

Looking Ahead: Advancing the Educator Externship: For future educators participating in externships, I encourage you to study the leadership styles of those within your field of interest. Assessing the impact of their approach on the workforce can offer valuable insights for implementing a successful teaching strategy in the classroom. : 

The educator externship experience has been a transformative journey, enriching my perspective as a teacher. Embracing workplace-centric teaching practices will undoubtedly enhance student learning, preparing them for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. As I look forward to the next academic year, I am convinced that maintaining this externship program will continue to inspire growth and innovation within the educational community, benefiting teachers and students alike.

If your middle or high school provides a Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) course, you may have access to the MADLearn platform. This company demonstrates strong support for educational institutions, offering not only an exceptional product but also internship opportunities for middle and high school students. I encourage you to have a conversation with your CTAE teacher, inquiring about the possibility of utilizing this remarkable program within your school this academic year.